As Paul Archer looks up at his latest mural, it glares back down at him.
The Victoria airbrush artist, known professionally as “Archer,” has taken his love for a fictional family to new heights by painting a 16-foot-tall mural of Wednesday Addams, glaring eyes and all, on the back of a building downtown.
The feat, completed on Jan. 13, was a creative way to hide graffiti facing the parking lot at 850 Broughton St., according to Archer.
“Normally, I just go out and paint grey back over because I try to keep that area nice and clean. It’s right behind my shop. So, instead of painting the grey back in, I decided to do Wednesday because it was Friday the 13th, and I thought that would be appropriate,” he told CHEK News.
B.C.’s rainy winter season isn’t ideal for artists working outside, but the precipitation actually enhanced the final product for Archer this time around.
“When I started it, it started raining on me, so it created a texture in the face that was kind of different,” he said. “I finished it up the following day and it took me about a full day, in total.”
Wednesday, known for her morbid personality, pale skin and pigtails, is a character featured in the 1964 sitcom The Addams Family, the blockbuster films The Addams Family and Addams Family Values, both released in the ’90s, and, most recently, the Netflix series Wednesday, which premiered in November 2022 and stars Jenna Ortega in the titular role.
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Archer, who dubs himself an “airbrush extraordinaire,” decided to take a photo of Ortega in character and, using a whole lot of paint, expand his already extensive mural portfolio that started more than 40 years ago.
“I do murals all over B.C., and I get a fire burning inside as soon as I find something that I really want to do. Then I scope out a wall,” he said.
“Normally, this time of year, I’m just painting canvases or interior work, or interior murals. But my real passion is to do the big outside things. I’ve done 18-storey buildings, and I’m booked up most of this year with stuff up in the Kootenays and the Okanagan. I’ve done over 100 murals up there over the last couple of years.”
In Victoria, passersby may recognize another one of Archer’s pieces on the side of a building at the corner of Burnside Road and Wascana Street, where a mural of a girl with a sunflower stands about two-storeys tall.
“It’s massive,” he exclaimed. “Now, people are actually planting sunflowers and a garden in front of it. As it grows, it works with the mural, and it gets the community together. It’s really cool.”
And the artist is no stranger to the spotlight, especially last fall when one of his murals on the Mainland of a famous monarch went viral and was featured “on several news stations,” Archer recalls.
“I did Queen Elizabeth II the day that she passed away when I was up in Grand Forks,” he said. “I saw the side of the courthouse building had graffiti tags all over it, so I went into the city hall and said, ‘I want to paint the Queen on the courthouse. Call me at this number if you’re interested.’ Ten minutes later, I got the call.”
Reflecting on his career and past projects, Archer says he’s got “quite a few memorable ones” and, through the years, has developed a passion for large-scale pieces that not only impress the public, but himself.
“When you’re done, step down from the swing stage and step back about three blocks and look at it, I can’t describe that feeling inside,” he said. “It’s just a feeling of accomplishment.”
As for his newest mural of Ortega, Archer says he hasn’t actually watched her new show, though he’s an Addams Family “nut” with the famous theme song “the ringtone on my phone,” he added with a laugh.
(Photos courtesy: Paul Archer/archermuralartist.com)
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated the artist had permission from the Chamber of Commerce. A spokesperson for the Chamber of Commerce says it was not involved in this project. The story has been updated to reflect this.